Today I was allowed to take a gander at the place that I will be calling home sometime soon. My current residence, as I have mentioned before, is a guest house that is located on the campus grounds. I have a room here, and there is a common area where I take my food typically, but that is it. I don't have a kitchen in the guest house, and depending on who is passing through, at times I will have neighbors in the rooms adjacent to mine, and then other times it is an emptier than a can of condensed milk after my morning tea. All this should be changing soon as the bungalow that I will be staying in gets the last touches for my arrival.
Around 8 this morning I walked over to the house and knocked on a few doors to see if anyone was home. Since no one was home I figured that I was at the right house. They had mentioned that the one which was to be mine has not been lived in for about two years. As I rounded the exterior of the locked-up place the Housemaster greeted me and walked over. A very friendly man who I hope to trade knowledge with soon (his Ewe for my computer know-how), he showed me into the place and gave me a quick tour.
All I can say is that it may well be far too much space for just one person. The place is bigger than any apartment that I have had in the states by a long stretch. It is a two-bedroom bungalow that is meant to be shared living but for the moment, I will be the only one located there. Apparently there could be a Japanese volunteer arriving to also teach a course or two at the school, but at this time no one is sure whether that is a month from now or a year. I guess I can update the blog later when the time comes.
For now though all the rooms are open to me. Honestly, it is too much. There is a water closet, shower room, the two bedrooms, one exceedingly large general living area that is probably 20 feet by 30 feet, a corridor that has three store rooms in succession which then leads you into the kitchen area which has by my count two pantries. The kitchen is painted a dark gray or black and I may need to research a different paint scheme for that space. It does not have the natural gas tank or cook-top burner yet but they are on the way. The school has a fixed up refrigerator that they will loan me (very kind of them) and I think I will splurge and buy two new mattresses so that I can entertain overnight guests at the abode when the time comes.
At the front of the house is a very nice porch that I can sit on and just whittle away the hours talking to passersby. Or at least that is the plan. Quite posh, but before I get carried away, it does a have a few minor problems with water seepage and this and that door getting stuck. The building itself is about 50 years old so please do not consider it luxury at its highest, but for what my expectations were, it just blew me away.
Did I mention I am having a good time in Ghana?
After the session of touring and snapping photographs of the house, I entertained a visit to the town and got my counterpart to show me to his barber. My hair, well, my mop was getting plain annoying here. I would actually have to comb it after a bath to make sure knots wouldn't form which, to my best memory, has not been an issue with my coiffure for twenty years or so. It was high school probably when I could see my bangs feathering themselves into my eyelashes, and going almost three months without a haircut put me back in that boat. If you have seen photos of me recently, your chuckles probably could not be suppressed. Mine weren't.
Hence, the barber trip. For some reason I went under the impression that the barber was familiar with a westerner's hairdo. I greeted the man and William seemed kind enough and was just finishing another man's haircut when he spoke to my counterpart in Ewe. I heard the price mentioned, I heard the word 'yevu' spoken, and I added the two together to form something like this, “You want me to cut the white guy's hair? That will be four times what I charge you.” Something like that. Typical haircuts here are about one cedi, which is equivalent to 60 or 70 cents American. I was to pay four cedis. This guy must be good I figured to up the rate that much. We agreed and for fifteen minutes I was treated to my first Ghanaian haircut.
Hair fell down from my head like the ash from Mt. St. Helen's when it exploded every which way possible. I knew he had clippers, and I said something about using the highest number guard he had but from the clippings I could see, quite a bit of hair was littering his little shop (he even remarked that my hair was jamming his clippers up which made me chortle quietly). Sure enough, the mirror was painting the picture of what a sheep looks like one day after spring begins. My head has been like that before so it was no big deal to me, but was this really worth four times the cost of a normal Ghanaian haircut? I just smiled when he asked if it looked alright. “Yup.” It sure felt cooler than my previous style.
As I said, his name is William and he is originally from Togo so I asked him a few questions while seated about his homeland. He speaks French, Ewe, English, and maybe one more dialect and he really wants to go to Europe or America. I wish I could just plop everyone who wants to leave Ghana for distant shores right down at their destination to see what our cultures are like. I think they might like their country more if they were able to do that, but that is just a hunch. Then again they might enjoy it as much as I am enjoying this experience here.
When we were done, I got up, got my wallet out, and paid him. He then announced quite proudly that I was the first white man to enter his shop for a haircut. As I rubbed my nearly-bald white head I remarked, “No kidding?” Smiles all around and I said my goodbye in Ewe. I think I just met my new Ghanaian barber today.